Intermittent Explosive Disorder – What is a “rage” disorder in juveniles?

An important study by Dr. Emil Coccaro (University of Chicago) indicated that a disorder believed to be responsible for Road Rage or frequent interpersonal violence may be a treatable form of Neuropsychiatric rage condition (Intermittent Explosive Disorder). Dr. Coccaro’s study provided new information that indicated this condition may occur more frequently than previously thought.

Key points about Intermittent Explosive Disorder from this study:

  • Prevalence – Rage Disorder more common than previously thought (7.3%)
  • Identification – Rage means minimum provocation leads to maximum aggression
  • Onset – Average age at onset is 14 years (half start in childhood, half in teens)
  • Frequency – Three or more explosive “meltdowns” a year
  • Cause – Exposure to media violence makes it worse
  • Parenting – Not due to parenting, but parents often blamed
  • Diagnosis – Doctors diagnose as Bipolar Disorder, but it is a brain disorder
  • Assessment – Brain imaging and electrical studies demonstrate brain disorders
  • Treatment – Sedatives used for anger control/safety. Preferable to target specific brain disorder
  • Outcome – Early intervention improves outcome (up to 85-90% in Outcome Studies)

Many adolescents treated in the Meridell Achievement Center’s Neurobehavioral/Neuropsychiatric program meet the criteria for this “rage” disorder. They can be treated successfully as they have a true brain disorder that responds quickly to appropriate medication.

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